My Turn, Your Turn: Illegal to toss plastic bottles - WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC


My Turn, Your Turn: Illegal to toss plastic bottles

By Gary McNair - bio|email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Do you know that in October it will be illegal to throw away plastic bottles or aluminum cans in North Carolina? 

Now, I know the "green" movement is necessary and popular, and certainly the legislators that passed this bill had good intentions - but is it practical?  

I don't think you can legislate that people become environmentally conscious.  What if our state leaders decide they want us to be more health conscious?   Will they pass a law making it illegal to be overweight?

While there probably is no perfect way to get people to recycle, there is better way.  In fact, nearly a dozen states have used it for decades.  They passed container deposit legislation.  They use the carrot instead of the stick, and this helps get everyone involved in the process. 

A friend of mine, who grew up and went to college in Michigan, told me that all his dorm mates used to collect cans and bottles to pay for fast-food meals in those cash-strapped days.  They were helping the environment because of an incentive, not out of fear breaking the law - and that's the way this issue should be handled.

That's my turn.  Now it's your turn.  To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at

Viewers' emailed responses:

If it will be illegal to throw plastic bottles and aluminium cans away, then recycling pick-up should be available in the county areas well.

Currently, there is no recycling out in my area and many people do not want to have to gather the items and then find a recycling station. If all are to follow the law, then all should be given the same advantages.


Your article about plastic/aluminum recycling was a bit off the mark.  Your reference your friend who grew up in Michigan recycling.

"A friend of mine, who grew up and went to college in Michigan, told me that all his dorm mates used to collect cans and bottles to pay for fast-food meals in those cash-strapped days.  They were helping the environment because of an incentive, not out of fear breaking the law - and that's the way this issue should be handled."

Michigan has had a forced deposit law on the books for many years requiring retailers to refund the .05/bottle to anyone who brought them to their establishment.  These "bottle bills" passed by various state legislatures have created more problems than were solved beginning with where the retailer was going to store the collected material.  Add to that the vermin problems created by storing the bottles.

North Carolina does not need a "bottle law".  But then again, our illustrious legislators have no problem with mandates, but offer no viable solution for the implementation. 


You have got to be kidding me, this is almost as ridiculous as the law against texting while driving, it's going to be 'unenforceable', this is nothing more than our legislators spending valuable time on things that are less important.  How can the State of North Carolina possibly even begin to require by law that residents recycle, when most counties don't even have a recycyling program.  I live in Brunswick County, and I am not aware of any recycling centers that the county provides.  If it does, then it doesn't advertise them.  As I said, a waster of time.


My husband and I live in Leland right off of Mt.Misery . My husband is in the Coast Guard and so we move around every 3-4 years. We have never lived somewhere we have not had a recycle bin next to out garbage bin. How are they going to make throwing plastic bottles away illegal when it is not easy to recycle. There are no recycle trucks that come out to our area. My husband works, and I am in school so we are both very busy people. I am all about recycling but it needs to be a easier way for us to this. When we do recycle we have a 25 min. or so drive to do it. I say make it a law to have to recycle but if you are going to do that than make it a law also that we have to have a recycle bin.


Where I live in Brunswick County, containers are not an option.  I'm all for recycling if I have the proper resources to do so. 


You are totally wrong!
People have had an incentive to recycle...making earth better!  That didn't work so now we need a strict enforcement.


     This may be a drastic measure, but given the times.I find it appropriate. We have shown throughout the years that we are too selfish to recycle on our own, saying "'s just too inconvenient." Global pollution is a severe problem. This is my world as much as it is yours and I'm glad someone finally stood up and forced the issue making others take care of my world just like I take care of theirs.


So if it will be illegal to throw away plastic bottles and aluminum cans I suppose our NC tax strapped communities will be paying now for the "Trash Police"? I agree - Lets get real. On average our society cringes when passing a homeless person travelling the streets of our wonderful cities and towns including the fair Wilmington with their shopping carts full of cans and bottles. Do you immediately think how degrading it is?? Because you wouldn't be caught by your social peers trading trash for money?? Well then get a life. But now that it is THE LAW then it shall be done!! Nonsense!!

I understand it should be every persons responsibility to WANT to clean the planet and the environment. But to assume that "We the People" will do it even more now because it is against the law is just plain ridiculous. If money is going to be spend to enforce this new law by inspections of the landfills, why couldn't incentives be placed that would encourage the population to assist in collecting and trading in their trash for cash. This should not just be a job for the homeless. Why not put into effect the .5 cent payoff when returning these products? Sure these suggestions cost money, but I believe it would be the incentive we all need to get on the right path and help in a way that works.

Just my opinion.


Gary, I saw your commentary tonight and totally agree with you.  Let me tell you what I observed this past Monday.  I live on Oak Island and was following a Waste Management trash truck on one of the side streets.  They were picking up the trash bins and emptying them into the truck as normal.  The next thing I saw was the guy grabbing the recycle bin and also emptying it in the the same truck as the regular trash.  What good does it do to separate the recycled trash from the regular trash if it is going into the same truck.  In the past, as second truck came around and picked up the recycled trash.  At least this made me feel better even if they dumped both in the landfill.  We make a valiant effort to separate the recyclable materials and especially the plastic material.  Just thought you would like to know.


You were 100% correct in your comments on the recycling law. Even though I agree with the principle of taking care of the earth God gave us, I do not think it is the government's business as to how we dispose of our trash as long as we do no one any harm. I guess next they will be coming in our homes and telling us what we can and can't eat because it is bad for us according to some health expert. There has to be a stopping point somewhere. Our freedoms are being stolen quickly. Is this the change everyone wanted?


Hey I think its great.  I grew up in a state that had bottle return.  In this day and age where everyone is looking a a few more bucks its a nice suprise to take your trash can of bottles, turn them in, and get as little a a couple dollars to (I remember cashing in on) $30-40.  Teachi your kids to take care of this issue for you.  It can be a great reward in the end for them and you.  Go green!  PS for years when my parents visit they take the cans with them (the ones appropriately marked) and turn them in in their state.  Hello... we are loosing some of our own money!


I live in Pender County and I have to take my garbage to a connivance center and now I'm going to have to take more bags with just bottles in them. This law is really not practical and in fact it might even be unconstitutional. If the state is going to require us by law then they need to provide away to recycle.


I don't agree with the law. I read about how the state can't control private residences disposal of these items so it would be up to the company who picks up the trash every week to sort and dispose of these things.  That just says higher property taxes to me.  Living in the Leland area, though we do not have recycle pick up, there is a recycle drop off location (FREE) behind the town hall off of Village Road.  It is a no sort recycle location so you just drop your items, (cardboard, plastics 1-6, and newspapers), and be done with it.  They do not except plastic grocery bags or garbage bags.  Those can be recycled at your local supermarket.


I am all for the recycling and have been for years.  What I don't understand is that is why New Hanover County is so behind the times in curbside recycling?  Where I used to live in Craven County they have offered curbside recycling since I know at least the early 90s and here we are 2009.  If they are going to make it illegal and if we truly want to be green, the county needs to be proactive and offer or allow curbside recycling.  I have tried to get it in my community Gordon Woods but since we are not an HOA I have been unsuccessful.  I have been in touch with Green Coast Recycling and they will offer curbside recycling to Gordon Woods and any surrounding neighborhoods but they need at least 10 customers to make it worth it for them due to cost, etc.  So everyone call Green Coast Recycling and let's see if we can get the curbside recycling.  It is very reasonable.

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